Climate change is gaining prominence as a political and public priority. But many ambitious climate action plans foresee the use of climate engineering technologies whose risks are insufficiently understood. In a new publication, IASS researchers describe how evolving modelling practices are trending towards “best-case” projections.
In order to avert the worst consequences of climate change, the Paris Climate Agreement aims to limit global warming to well below 2°C and, if possible, to 1.5°C. But this goal will only be achieved if the signatory states reduce their emissions considerably more than they have pledged so far under the agreement. Could climate geoengineering be a Plan B if they fail to deliver? A team of authors led by IASS Scientific Director Mark Lawrence argue in an article just published in Nature Communications that the proposed technologies cannot be relied on to rescue the Paris Agreement and the 2°C goal.
Despite extensive efforts among members of the international community and the historical agreement reached in Paris in 2015, greenhouse gases continue to be emitted in vast amounts, with potentially devastating consequences around the world.
The 2018 COP24 climate conference in Katowice, Poland is over. Looking back at what has been achieved in the three years since the historical Paris Agreement reminds me a bit of the John Lennon lyrics: “So this is Christmas - and what have you done? Another year over, and a new one just begun.” While the conference was indeed successful in coming to an agreement over the rule book for how to account for countries upholding their commitments to limiting climate-relevant emissions under the Paris Agreement, there were no real breakthroughs.It is reassuring that the rule book was achieved, despite the considerable resistance from several countries, though it is exactly what was on the plan for this round of negotiations. Thus COP24 was another milestone in the steady progress being made towards implementing measures intended to help us achieve the chief goal of the Paris Agreement: keeping global warming well below 2°C, aiming to limit it to only 1.5°C.
Environmentalists are often critical of technological fixes to problems caused by technology. But when it comes to geo-engineering, a clear distinction needs to be made between the message and the messenger.
Let’s say you don’t exercise enough, eat too much snack food, and get drunk too often. Then your doctor tells you he’s putting you on medication for high blood pressure. Would you accuse your doctor of being part of an evil conspiracy?
Research into technologies for manipulating the planetary environment in order to forestall the effects of climate change is rapidly proceeding from small laboratory and desktop studies to the field. Concurrent with these developments, there have been calls for the establishment of governance mechanisms to ensure that the risks and concerns that this research presents are addressed appropriately, given the complex issues at stake.